Mar 6, 2010

Hallelujah Chicken Run Band - Take One



Information and Reviews

The first steps of the lion called Thomas Mapfumo, started somewhere here,let's follow them. Zimbabwe was still called Rhodesia when the songs on this cracking compilation were recorded between 1974 and 1979 by a seminal band, originally set up to entertain the workers at the Mangura copper mine.The country was in a sort of limbo -between its British colonial past and full independence. It was a time when pride was swelling across the African continent. Trumpet player Daram Karanga hired after the mines management request,four friends and colleagues,including singer and drummer Thomas Mapfumo. The Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, or HCR,was born.

The record is a must for fans of southern African music, and a great insight into the early career of Thomas Mapfumo, who was with them for most of their first year. He’s represented on four murky sounding but atmospheric cuts written just as he and guitarist Joshua Hlomayi were beginning to move away from their mix of Afro-rock,
rumba, cha-cha-cha and ‘copyright’ soul material (covers),towards a more original neo-traditional sound.

“Ngoma Yarira” finds Mapfumo’s distinctive yodel-like vocal style almost fully formed, along with the shuffling triple-time groove he would later coin ‘chimurenga’.
Another standout track from this period is the ghostly, throbbing “Alikulila”,
based on a Malawian traditional tune,in respect for the mineworkers in Mangura,
many of whom came to Rhodesia for work from neighboring Malawi.

The group's name has its own story:Taking care of poultry at the mine's chicken coop, was Thomas Mapfumo's day job. It would be one of the last times Mapfumo would have to resort to manual labor.His Shona songs would soon be his calling card.The band members in HCR worked hard for their living. But some in the management at the Mangura Copper Mine felt they were overpaid and pushed to have the band's wages cut. Thomas Mapfumo was the first one to complain. He was fired, and so began the slow demise of the Hallelujah Chicken Run band and the rise of chimurenga,the sound of struggle.

Source

It's impossible to talk about music of the late seventies and early eighties without mentioning The Hallelujah Chicken Run Band. Back then Thomas Mapfumo featured on drums.

The legendary Mapfumo has become synonymous - if not something of an icon - with the liberation struggle, partly because he continued to compose despite being incarcerated and having his music banned. Today however, the former critic of the Smith government is as critical of the Mugabe administration. Now Mr Mapfumo lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.

The Hallelujah Chicken Run Band also included other Zimbabwean musicians Lovemore Nyabenzi, Daram karanga, Joshua Hlomayi Dube, Robert Nakati and Elisa Jingo, to name a few.

Initially created to entertain workers at Mangura Copper Mine (with financial backing from mine chairman Mr Walker), the band became one of the trademark groups of the time. It was often invited to perform at fishing and gold clubs, as well as at weddings.

Gramma record's digitally re-mastered 18-track CD features the Band's hits from 1974 to 1979.

Its opening track is a song called "Mudzimu Ndiringe", which is about a man who was told that his life would be all right. But his children aren't attending school, he's unemployed and his home has been burnt down. He complains that life is tough adding he's approaching a traditional healer - and the prophets - for help.

While "Mudzimu Ndiringe" was written in the seventies, it is poignantly relevant today. Many of the issues raised during the struggle for liberation have re-surfaced today.

Another song bound to get tongues wagging is a track titled "Kare Nanhasi". Appropriately, it's about the expensive prices of commodities. The song compares the past - when people seemed to obtain goods with relative ease - with the present, when everything (including the price of beer) seems to go up daily.

But the album isn't only political; it features love songs too. In "Mukadzi wangu ndomuda" a man says he loves his wife, despite her being blind. He insists he still desires and admires her, no matter how others laugh at him or criticize.

This compilation is bound to rouse nostalgic feelings about the past, both good and the bad.

Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.

Source


In Zimbabwe, if you criticize President Robert Mugabe publicly, you could end up in a whole lot of trouble. Such is the case of singer Thomas Mapfumo. So strong were his critiques of Mugabe, that he left Zimbabwe in fear for his personal security.

Mapfumo now lives in Oregon -- and he continues to rail against Mugabe's un-democratic ways. It's hard to fathom that -- at one point -- Mapfumo and Mugabe saw the world through the same revolutionary glasses. A newly released collection of Mapfumo's early songs takes us back to that point in history.

It was the late sixties and early seventies. Zimbabwe was still called Rhodesia. The country was in a sort of limbo -- between its British colonial past and full independence. It was a time when pride was swelling across the African continent.

In many countries, culture ministries tapped into that pride by funding home-grown pop bands But in Zimbabwe, one of the most important bands was funded not by the government -- but by a copper mine. The white owners of the Mangura Copper Mine were charitable types.

They believed their mineworkers needed some entertainment after they got out of a long shift in the bowels of the earth. And management hired a musician they knew, the son of a security guard at the mine, to put such a band together.

Trumpet player Daram Karanga hired four friends and colleagues, including singer and drummer Thomas Mapfumo. The Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, or HCR, was born.

At first HCR played a lot of rumba, cha cha cha, and soul covers. The band members saw that the white management at the mine liked those tunes. But the African mineworkers didn't.

Thomas Mapfumo decided to do some mining of his own -- digging into southern African roots music for musical inspiration. And he got his HCR band mates to go along. The so-called "traditional Zim style" was the trick that got the mine workers on the dance floor. HCR's popularity grew.

They put on gigs around Rhodesia. They recorded a now well-known studio session, from which many of the tracks on the newly released collection of material is drawn. In 1974, the band won a major national talent contest.

In respect for the mineworkers in Mangura, many of whom came to Rhodesia for work from neighboring Malawi, HCR recorded this traditional Malawian tune.

It's called Alikulila.

The band members in HCR worked hard for their living. But some in the management at the Mangura Copper Mine felt they were overpaid and pushed to have the band's wages cut. Thomas Mapfumo was the first one to complain. He was fired, and so began the slow demise of the Hallelujah Chicken Run band.

On his own, Mapfumo became a more political musician. He sang songs in the local language Shona. The white government didn't understand the lyrics. But Mapfumo's tunes were fomenting revolt -- one urged mothers to send their sons to war against the whites. He called his style "chimurenga" or struggle.

Meanwhile, HCR had a couple more years left in them.

"Take One" is the title of the just re-released collection of songs by the now defunct Hallelujah Chicken Run Band.

You may be wondering about the group's name.

Taking care of poultry at the mine's chicken coop, was Thomas Mapfumo's day job. It would be one of the last times Mapfumo would have to resort to manual labor. His rootsy Shona songs would soon be his calling card.

And Mapfumo's music would play a role in flipping Rhodesia out of the colonial era and into the country that is today called Zimbabwe.

Source


One of my all-time favorite recordings was released this summer: a classic re-issue of early-70s tunes from The Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, presented in a CD titled "Take One."

These tracks represent the recording debut of Zimbabwe’s musical and revolutionary hero Thomas Mapfumo, and they are a revelation that have lost none of their rhythmic freshness and unique groove over the years. This is inspiring, dynamite stuff musically and historically.

The tale of the band is legendary: founded during the brutal, racist colonial regime of Rhodesia, the group formed when the white-owned Mangura Copper Mine hired them as a pick-up group to perform for exhausted miners at the end of their shifts. Inspired by Mapfumo and guitarist Joshua Hlomayi Dube, the group proceeded to create a dynamic new musical form that was captured on tape by Teal Records.

The recordings feature a driving rhythm section anchored by crisp, intricately-picked, multiple electric guitars. Often working in 6/8 time, the melodies are all layered over beautiful harmonic vocals and Stax-style horn blasts. The 2006 release is re-mixed to a warm and enticing glow.

The vibe on these recordings evolved into Mapfumo’s heralded Chimurenga music, the soundtrack for the Zimbabwean Revolution (since betrayed, of course, despite Mapfumo’s efforts from exile). Mapfumo wrote himself into history when he continued to compose music during the late-1970s while imprisoned by the Rhodesian government for his revolutionary and anti-racist activism.

I’ve been planning to post about these recordings for weeks, but each time I listen to the tracks, I hear more details that I want to add. This is a supreme recording---listen to it and you’ll understand.

Needless to say, the CD has received widespread attention among African music fans throughout the world—I think it’s a major addition to the growing body of re-released 1970s classics from Africa. For example, from All Music Guide:

The founding fathers of Zimpop are presented here in all of their original glory, with the added bonus of some much-needed remastering. While most of Zimbabwe was still singing Western pop covers with a bit of rhumba mixed in, the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band were changing the sound of the country. Under the guidance of guitarist Joshua Hlomayi Dube and singer Thomas Mapfumo (in his earliest years), the band was replacing pop songs with traditional ideas — the guitar being given a staccato sound to mimic aspects of the mbira, and Mapfumo's vocals mimicking its sounds as well. At the same time, lyrics were at least occasionally made political and rebellious, and sung in Shona, a major issue given the political climate of Rhodesia at the time. The work is always excellent, and the band has far more coherence and ability than one might expect from a ragtag group of performers, barkeeps, part-time farmers, and the like.

All About Jazz reports on the origins of the band’s name:

As the story goes, two members of the group found day jobs working at a local chicken run. Upon hearing this, the mine's boss man, one Mr. Walker, shouted “Hallelujah!” and proceeded to christen the band with a name that was destined to become an acronym. Several months later, after he cut the musicians' salaries, a young Thomas Mapfumo went to complain and was fired on the spot, but thankfully Mapfumo still had the day job with the chickens. Or so the story goes. And so began the ups and downs of the HCRB.

Public Radio International’s review of the recording also has an update on Thomas Mapfumo:

In Zimbabwe, if you criticize President Robert Mugabe publicly, you could end up in a whole lot of trouble. Such is the case of singer Thomas Mapfumo. So strong were his critiques of Mugabe, that he left Zimbabwe in fear for his personal security. Mapfumo now lives in Oregon -- and he continues to rail against Mugabe's un-democratic ways. It's hard to fathom that -- at one point -- Mapfumo and Mugabe saw the world through the same revolutionary glasses. A newly released collection of Mapfumo's early songs takes us back to that point in history.

Also check out the blog post from Candie Pop (“some of the most infectious rhythms and melodies I’ve heard in a longtime”). You can hear song samples for yourself on the emusic website.

Source


One silver lining of the cloud that currently hangs over the music industry is the prevalence of re-issues. The financial squeeze that’s curtailed investment in new productions has made it more attractive for record companies to scour their vaults for forgotten gems, and let’s face it they don’t make ’em like they used to, whichever way you look at it. They’re not making much of anything at all these days in Zimbabwe, which was called Rhodesia when the songs on this cracking compilation were recorded there between 1974 and 1979 by a seminal band, originally set up to entertain the workers at the Mangura copper mine.

It’s a must for fans of southern African music, and a great insight into the early career of Thomas Mapfumo, who was with them for most of their first year. He’s represented on four murky sounding but atmospheric cuts written just as he and guitarist Joshua Hlomayi were beginning to move away from their mix of Afro-rock, rumba, cha-cha-cha and ‘copyright’ soul material (covers), towards a more original neo-traditional sound. “Ngoma Yarira” finds Mapfumo’s distinctive yodel-like vocal style almost fully formed, along with the shuffling triple-time groove he would later coin ‘chimurenga’. Another standout track from this period is the ghostly, throbbing “Alikulila”, based on a Malawian traditional tune.

As explained in the detailed, though not entirely complete sleeve notes (e.g. why were there no recordings between 1974 and 1977?) Hallelujah Chicken Run Band personnel was constantly changing, with guests and members leaving for and arriving from other better known groups such as Devera Ngwena and Four Brothers. Though fourteen musicians are listed in the credits, they generally seem to have existed as a five or six-piece, with founder member Daram Karanga’s trumpet and Robson Boora’s sax frequently softening the tight guitar counterpoint of Adbulah Musa and Hlomayi. The material isn’t chronologically sequenced, but it does hang together in an engaging way. Thus, things kick off in confident style with the propulsive rhythms and memorable guitar licks of guitar “Mudzimu Ndiringe”, from 1979. An hour later, you’ll be wanting to press replay.

Source







Tracklist

# 1 Mudzimu Ndiringe
# 2 Kare Nanhasi
# 3 Ngoma Yarira
# 4 Manheru Changamire
# 5 Tamba Zimba Namashe
# 6 Mutoridodo
# 7 Mukadzi Wangu Ndomuda
# 8 Sekai
# 9 Gore Iro
# 10 Murembo
# 11 Mwana Wamai Dada Naye
# 12 Musawore Moyo
# 13 Alikulila
# 14 Ndopenga
# 15 Ngatiende Kumusha
# 16 Shumba Inobva Mu Gomo
# 17 Tinokumbira Kuziva
# 18 Chaminuka Mukuru

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment